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"Old Mother Hubbard, went to the cupboard, to get her poor dog a bone. But when she got there, the cupboard that housed the fat free bones was bare, and she thought ‘Darn.’ So instead, she got out some tripe and fed it to the dog. Then she ate some of her ‘Lite’ potato chips." If only Old Mother Hubbard had known what was in those awful ‘Lite’ Potato Chips, she would’ve thought twice about eating them! Yes, this article is about food.

One rule of thumb when buying food is that when you see the word "Fat" on the outside of a package, you should think lots of calories inside the package. Like the old saying goes, paraphrasing a bit, there's no such thing as a ‘fat’ free lunch.

Of course, Mr. Webster tries to fool us. In my family's copy of Webster's New World Dictionary-College Edition-it says that a calorie is "the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree centigrade (Yes, that's the metric system.) ." While this may all be well and good, that doesn't mean you can go eating a bunch of calories and all you expect to be is really hot. In fact, you'll be pretty much the opposite of really hot, which would be really cold, or fat, or unattractive, as some would say.

But enough about fat. Let's talk about everybody's friend, cholesterol. First of all, let's look again at my trusty-rusty, handy-dandy Webster's New World, College Edition, Dictionary of the American Language! It says that cholesterol is "a crystalline fatty alcohol, found especially in animal fats." So that means that cholesterol is only found in animals' fats. So now take a look at all the products touting they have no cholesterol. Yes, that's right, they all come from plants! So that means that there never was any cholesterol in them (unless the manufacturer was putting lard or some of that yummy tripe into it) , and there never will be any cholesterol in it! I've noticed some peanut butter jars sport this label. Well, get this: peanut butter comes from a plant (hence the word 'peanut') !

"Lite!" is the most evil word on food packages today. Why? Because it's so unspecific. First of all, let's go once again to good ol' Webster's Mr. Boom-bastic, mega-fantastic, New World Dictionary. For the word lite, it has the entry "meaning stone, used in the names of minerals and rocks." Oh boy. Great. We're eating rocks. No, we're not though. The word lite in the dictionary is a suffix that's added on to rock names. They don't even have a definition for the word lite in the dictionary! That shows how stupid the company is who put this on their label. It isn’t even a word!

All right, I'm calming down. So, let's say we do know what it means, as in a bit less of something. But of what? What is there less of? Sugar? Calories? Tripe? Fat? Nutrients? The 'f' word, fiber? And what the heck is it lite compared to? A glob of Crisco? A piece of sterilized plastic? A nicely-looking plate of tripe? A large order of fries served with the vat of grease that it was fried in? We just don't know.

Of course, I just thought of one thing that lite could mean. Maybe it means that most of the bag is empty, which means that it’s ‘lite’ to carry! I say this because we’ve all picked up the Party Size bag of chips, hoping to see mounds and mounds of chipy-goodness in the bag. Of course, all you really get is a few broken chips with a party-size serving of air!

But don't you just hate it when they charge more for these food items that actually have less in them? It's just one big oxymoron! What would you say if somebody came up to you on the street and said, "Excuse me, sir or madam. If I take out half the ingredients from these potato chips and give you a smaller amount of food, would you pay me an extra five dollars?" I would not. In fact, I'd hit whoever would come up to me and say hello sir or madam. If they can't tell what gender I am that would get me pretty darn angry.

Plus, they usually take out too much stuff and then you're left with nothing. I'm sure you've all seen Caffeine-free Diet Cola. Whatta joke! How about you just give us a glass of water! It's almost free and it doesn't have the terrible after-taste!

Now I'd like to close with these words: For those of you who don't know what tripe is, go get a copy of Webster's New World, College Edition only, Dictionary. While you're there, look up the word oxymoron, too, because it's not a synonym for a teenager with acne. And for those of you who do know what tripe is, I'm sorry I ruined your appetite.

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Karl Becker, the author of all these articles, uses New Tricks for his writings.

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